Recipe: Leatherleaf Mahonia and Plum Hand Pies

Rachel Gentile found a leatherleaf mahonia shrub near my apartment and collected a bowlful of berries.  After trying one and realizing the berries are too sour to eat raw, she figured she could treat them like rhubarb: add a lot of sugar!  Next to the mahonia was a plum tree, so she grabbed a couple of sweet, ripe plums to add to the mix.





1.5 cups of fruit, seeds removed

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup white sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/8 cup tapioca starch (or corn starch)

pinch of salt


Preheat oven to 375°F

Mix all ingredients together, set aside to prep mini crusts.

Rachel used a store-bought roll out pie crust, but the more adventurous can prepare their favorite crust recipe! Roll out crust to ¼ inch thick.  Use a cookie cutter or jar to cut twelve 3-inch diameter circles.  Place six circles on parchment paper or a silpat on top of a cookie sheet.  Spoon out 2 Tbs of filling mixture into the middle of each circle.  Place remaining six circles on top, sealing the edges.  Slice the tops of each for a vent.  Brush with egg white and sprinkle with raw sugar.

Bake 20 minutes or until the crust is golden.

Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.


The berries combined with the plums make a delicious pie filling. The seeds of the leatherleaf mahonia are really bitter.  A food mill is useful for extracting the seeds from the fruit and Rachel highly suggests removing as many seeds as possible before using mahonia berries in a pie. However, the seeds are a headache to remove, and biting into a seed ruins the taste!



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